Research Kayaks in the Buyers' Guide!
Select Kayak to View in Buyers' Guide
Yes, the tracking isn't anything to brag about, especially coming from a shorter/wide yak, and it's slower to glide across the water for the same reason. But given the option I'd rather have a shorter/wide yak to stand and and fish in and stretch and lay out and enjoy my long fishing days opposed to a longer/narrow kayak that I have to stay seated for 6 hours or more a day. I have taken this in main channel 4-5 swells and absolutely loved it. It's a tank. Granted I get a hell of a good work out if I want to travel far but I enjoy that. Keep in mind I have a lot of gear typically.
I wired and installed a Lowrance Elite- 4X HDI fish finder, 12v battery and sonar into this beast. It's an amazing set up. I mounted the unit right between my feet above the assist strap and it's perfect. I mounted 2 Scott rod holders at the recesses provided and they fit perfectly as well. The battery and wires are inside the front hull (yes it's tough to open occasionally but nothing I would complain about). I then strap and small soft cooler on top of the front hull cover with about 12 "beverages" inside with a full bag of ice. As I keep "hydrated" through the day and catch bass I can throw them in my cooler to keep cold for the rest of the day if I catch a couple keepers. So I can have a total of 6 fishing rods with this set up but I typically only keep the 4 in the back and when I'm feel lazy I'll rig me a couple catfish set ups, anchor in a safe spot, throw a line or 2 for catfish, put my feet up, lay back and take in the glory of the NC/SC sun. I keep my layered fishing bag between my legs typically. I also have a milk crate with a bunch of random kayaking goodies and in the back. Including an easy to reach life vest, machete (in case gators, you know), a rain dry suit, snacks, first aid, gallon of water, and enough sunscreen for a preschool class. The seat is just the hard plastic so I keep a foam stadium pad under my butt that is very easy to move to higher and lower position as I feel like moving.
Basically I absolutely love this kayak. I load it to the brim and still have plenty of room to get antsy in the long hot summer days.
Cons: easier opening hatch although it makes it completely waterproof. And the tracking could use a little improvement.
Pros: one amazing summer so far.
This kayak was also priced quite a few hundred dollars less than other companies with comparable features. I got it from Dicks for $499 and it came with a 3 lb grapple anchor, seat that can clip into both low and high position, and a Scotty rod holder mounted up front making 5 total rod holders. I am not saying that the more expensive kayaks aren't better, but with the money I saved I can outfit it with the things I want now instead of later.
The two cons I have are the tracking, and that front hatch. The hatch seems to swell in the heat making it almost impossible to open. I fixed the hatch by mounting a $5 cleat so that not only do I have a handle to help open it (never gets stuck anymore) but now I have a place to toss a bow line. The tracking is not unmanageable, but worth mentioning (this thing needs to have some cons right?) It is also faster than my last vessel, but my experience is limited to only 2 kayaks so take that with a grain of salt.
In conclusion, I've been having the time of my life, and that kayaking is a hobby that I will have for a long time. I would definitely recommend this product, plus is nice when I'm fishing with friends and whenever my back starts to hurt I can stand up and move around a bit without hitting the shore. While they are headed in for a break.
Overall I am happy with this Kayak but I think I am going to add a rudder to help keep it tracking straight. This Kayak has 2 seating positions molded in which I find nice. It is not the most sleek design and I always find myself "bringing up the rear" when Kayaking with others but it is comfortable to fish out of.
The negatives - not a fast boat, and first move through lily pads well. Front hatch could be larger. Some people don't like the molded foot braces, but I do.
Almost half the price of comparable boats, I think it is an excellent deal.
First, the good. It has an incredibly high payload. 500 pounds for an 11'5" SOT 'yak is pretty good. Since my intention is to use it both for fishing and as a river camping boat, I like this lift capability. I am also not a thin guy and weigh in around 280 myself. I am comfortable with the load bearing ability of the Striker. I have found it to be a fairly stable boat when I am in the lower "paddling seat." On the James River the Striker is able to ride over speed boat wakes that I would have to turn "bow into" with my canoe. Only the most severe wakes and waves, on the river, cause me to have to turn, "bow on toward danger." For the most part, she slips right over them without even noticing.
The Striker is also pretty stable for getting in and out of. Much more so than my old Pelican 15.5 canoe or other SOT 'yaks I have paddled. This is probably due to the fact that it is supposed to be a "stand up" design. The four built in, flush mount, rod holders are nice too and there is a a LOT of room in the hull for gear storage.
Now for the bad. You really cannot access that hull room. There are two hatches. One 8 inch located forward and one 6 inch "day hatch" located IMMEDIATELY under the paddling seat. The "day hatch" is, in fact, so close to the seat that my seat covers it when I snap it in place! I am then partially sitting on top of the day hatch when paddling. This makes it, for practical purposes, inaccessible. Do not put anything down there which you will actually need.
The day hatch is also located next to the largest section of interior storage space, under the seats. Yet, it is only 6 inches across making it impossible to get most gear bags into the your best space. This is also the center-most point of the hull and should be where you load most of your gear but it is just not possible. the main hatch is located forward and is, frankly, next to impossible to get open. I should have realized this in the store when it took two salesmen to pry this hatch loose. I chalked it up to it "being new." I have tried a light coating of vegetable oil on the threads of this hatch. No joy. The thing seals so tight it is next to impossible to get open and it is made worse on a a sunny day. It is my belief that the hatch, being made of black plastic, absorbs sunlight and swells. Whatever the case, the last time I had it on the river and tried to open it I found the hatch to be stuck so hard that I simply could NOT get it open. I could not get to any of the gear in the bow until I had the bright idea of pouring cold water on the hatch for several minutes. It is early spring here, I have scupper plugs in to keep water out and I really did not like pouring water into my boat! Perception REALLY needs to do something about this hatch.
As bad as the hatch is the most glaring problem with the Perception Pro Striker is its tracking or should I say its "lack of tracking?" I have named my Striker the "Elsie May," after my beloved old dog, recently deceased. I used to say that Elsie May behave herself or she may not, she was a had headed critter. Well, the Striker is a hard headed b*tch too and likes to "wander off on her own path." Paddling the Striker is a constant challenge.
I have also found the high seat, or the "fishing seat" to be next to worthless. It was one of the main selling points when I purchased this 'yak and I was looking forward to using it. In practice I have found it to cause the 'yak to become overbalanced and unstable, even at anchor. I simply cannot say that I am thrilled with it. However, I do like clipping my tackle bag and a bottle of water there. It is easy to get to.
Perception could make some serious improvements, to the day hatch, to the forward hatch and including a hatch on the rear cargo well and, maybe a skeg, to help with the tracking problem. It also did not thrill me that, two months after I purchased it, they dropped the MSRP by $100! This tells me that they know there are issues and, somehow, I doubt that Perception intends to try to fix them.
Over all? hmmm I am ranking it 5 out of 10 because it simply does not perform as advertised yet it does have tremendous potential for the money. If someone were looking at one I would say this, do not pay full price. If you can get it at a bargain, or on sale, go for it. You can probably make something of it. I am thinking of trying to make a skeg for mine.
120,000+ people can't be wrong!
The Paddling.net Newsletter is a must if you like to canoe or kayak! Each week it is packed with great articles, photos, product reviews, and special features. Better yet, we promise not to sell your email address to anyone; that's right ZERO spam! Sign up today and find out what you've been missing!